The Difference Between Product Features and Benefits

Last week, the Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) tribe learned how AIDAR demonstrates each step of the sales/marketing process. This week, Lucy explains why understanding of a product’s benefits is crucial to selling a product into a target marketplace. Remember, fire = print.

Lucy called a meeting the next morning to announce the new matches that Marka had recently invented. She gave each FEI tribe member a pack of matches to try out.

“These are beautiful,” Numo said. “Look at all the features! The durable wood! The rough match head! I can’t wait to tell potential buyers about every detail!”

Lucy smiled. “I admire your enthusiasm, Numo. But you just described the features of a match. We’re not selling features—we’re selling benefits. There’s a difference.”

“Please enlighten me,” Numo said sincerely.

“Features aren’t compelling,” Lucy explained. “Even irregular togas and three-wheeled chariots have features. By clearly communicating the benefits of our new matches rather than their features, our marketing activities will be more likely to inspire action within our target markets.”

“If features are straightforward descriptions of a product, what are benefits?” Numo asked.

“Benefits provide value for the customer,” Lucy answered. “Benefits tell potential buyers what they’ll get out of the product and how it will help solve problems in their everyday life.”

Zoot bent his match until it formed a ‘U.’ “What problems could this dumb thing possibly solve?”

“Just check out this presentation I’ve put together,” Lucy said enthusiastically.

She flipped the lights and started the O-projector. A sad man in a toga appeared on screen, crouched before a burnt-out campfire.

“Before matches,” Lucy began, “this man would’ve had to trek 20 minutes back to his cabin to get a torch. Now thanks to matches…”

Lucy moved to the next slide, which showed the happy man warming his hands over a newly-lit fire.

T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or
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